Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Importance of Podcasts, Screencast, Vodcasts, and Audio Files for online Teaching & Learning

As shared in my What I Learned From Teaching My First Online Classes blogpost, Podcasting is important to the success of your online / hybrid students because the directions you write, no matter how much time you pour over trying to word them just write, aren't always clear or interpreted by your reader as you intended. Additionally, sometimes students need to be shown how to do something and not simply told (Sounds like a best teaching practice to me!).

I make podcasts to answer a student question when I know the student won't comprehend without direct and explicit teacher instruction. I hope I catch the need for a podcast earlier enough to share it with my other students but sometimes, it's the last kid to do the assignment who needs the podcast.  Since you can add the podcast to your podcast library for future use, they are always a good use of your time.

Here is a list of my 3 favorite podcasting tools (Note: I call any one-way video/audio creation that can be shared with a hyperlink a podcast. I use it as a generic term. If I am completely wrong, help me understand what term to use). There are many other tools for easy creation but these three were easy for me to learn at a time when this stuff was new and I was more eager than skilled.

If you have a microphone, plug it in. If not, talk loudly so the mic in your computer can get a strong recording of your voice. The next step is to “Click to Record,” select “Allow” your microphone to work, and then talk. Click Stop when you are finished. Accept Rule #1: You will make mistakes when you speak. Everyone does (even the Khan Academy guy), so don’t go for perfection. To save your recording, copy the link that pops up after you select “Click here to save” into a new tab and then bookmark it. Vocaroo has no login and no storage for you to save your recordings on its site.

2.      Jing
This resource needs to be downloaded, and the process for doing that is free and fast. Jings are used to create the podcast but are shared through a service called Screencast. After downloading Jing, you immediately sign up for Screencast to share and store your creations. Once you have that sun-resembling icon at the top of computer (or anywhere you choose to move it to), you can make a podcast that shows what’s on your desktop.
3.      Eyejot

Like Vocaroo, no downloading is needed. And like Jing, a sign-in is required and the podcasts are able to be saved.  Eyejots create video messages instantaneously so a webcam is needed. After creating an account at, simply click on Compose New Message. That’s it.

Here's a tip to make sure your students watch/listen to a podcast you want them to see/hear: Put a password or passphrase somewhere in your podcast and then for a quick, easy assignment, students must email you the pass word or phrase. . This can be funny! I loved podcasting as a teaching tool so much that I would grab my mic anytime. If a student came in and interrupted me, I would make the password the name of the student I was talking to in the podcast. At this stage, I won't rerecord a podcast if the dog barks (Q: "What was my dog doing in the podcast" A: Barking like crazy!) or a student starts laughing in the background (Q: What was the student doing who interrupted this podcast? A: Laughing like a hyena). 

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